Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated.
Common causes of dehydration include vigorous exercise, especially in hot weather; intense diarrhea; vomiting; fever or excessive sweating. Not drinking enough water during exercise or in hot weather even if you’re not exercising also may cause dehydration. Anyone may become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk.
You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment. The safest approach is preventing dehydration in the first place. Keep an eye on how much fluid you lose during hot weather, illness or exercise, and drink enough liquids to replace what you’ve lost.
Why Are The Elderly More At Risk For Dehydration
Older adults are at a higher risk for dehydration than younger adults. As we age, the composition of our bodies changes. One of these changes is retention of less water in the body.
Further compounding this is the fact that the feeling of thirst decreases in the elderly. Many seniors who have been hospitalized for dehydration did not realize that they were in need for water replenishment until it was too late.
How To Hydrate An Elderly Person
The key to how to hydrate an elderly person is to prevent dehydration before it occurs. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage seniors to drink sips of water throughout the day.
My grandfather had a large plastic souvenir cup from a Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard boxing match that he kept filled with water at his favorite chair all day. A cup or mug that is meaningful to an elderly person can make all the difference.
Older adults that may suffer from arthritis or other conditions that limit use of their hands may not want to bother someone to help them hold a cup or glass. There are many adaptive cups on the market such as the Independence 2-Handle Plastic Lightweight Mug for Hot and Cold Beverages. These cups are easy to grasp and take away the fear of spilling the beverage.
Water Is Not The Only Option
Water as the only option can become boring. Since many elderly people do not have huge appetites they may not be receiving an adequate amount of electrolytes from food and beverages.
Electrolyte drinks like Pedialyte for elderly dehydration can be added to the diet for prevention. Other electrolyte drinks for elderly can be mixed using a supplement drink mix. The Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier, Electrolyte Powder contains 3x the electrolytes of traditional sports drinks and may be able to hydrate 2-3 times faster and more efficiently than water alone.